Relative Pronouns: "Quien"


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Continuing with the subject of “relative pronouns,” remember that pronouns are words that refer to a noun. Relative pronouns are called “relative” because they are “related” to a noun that has previously been stated.

The relative pronoun “quien” is used only to refer to people, and has a plural form “quienes.” (There is no masculine/feminine distinction.)

Mi tío, quien es profesor, viene a visitarme hoy día.
My uncle, who is a professor, is coming to visit me today.

La chica, con quien fui al cine, es mi novia.
The girl, with whom I went to the movies, is my girlfriend.

Quien estudia bastante, gana buenas notas.
He who studies hard earns good grades.

When the relative pronoun refers to a person and is in the direct object position, either “que” or “a quien” may be used. Each is correct. Notice that the “personal a” is used with “quien” but is not used with “que.”

La señorita que conocí anoche es la hermana de Raquel.

La señorita a quien conocí anoche es la hermana de Raquel.

The young lady whom I met last night is Raquel’s sister.

When the relative pronoun occurs after a preposition and refers to a person, “quien” must be used. After a preposition, “que” is only used to refer to things.

Los chicos, con quienes fuimos a la playa, son nuestros amigos.
The boys, with whom we went to the beach, are our friends.

El libro en que pienso es extenso, no es corto.
The book I’m thinking of is long, not short.

In English, although it is technically incorrect, common usage often finds a sentence ending in a preposition. Notice that this never occurs in Spanish.

Ella es la señorita en quien estoy pensando.
She is the young lady I’m thinking about. / She is the young lady about whom I’m thinking.

Mi padre es la persona a quien envío la carta.
My father is the person I’m sending the letter to. / My father is the person to whom I’m sending the letter.